Let’s begin by requesting we all do an act of kindness to at least one member of the Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion ( BIR). If you own a restaurant, offer a free plate of food. If you are a driver, offer a free ride. If you sell recharge cards, offer air time. If you have lots of money (whether hard earned or embezzled), use some to pay them a visit, taking along goody bags and the list is endless. DCC has chosen to put out a call to all Cameroonians both home and abroad to do a direct act of kindess to at least one member of the BIR with the hashtag #BIRLove, as an appreciation for their services .Yes, they are just doing their job but this time they seem to be getting their job description right.
While appreciating the Cameroonian Military for their efforts against Boko Haram, I think I should mention this is the first time I have seen Cameroonians so united in support of the military. Without intending to spoil the party, until the advent of Boko Haram, most Cameroonians didn’t like the army due to ideologies fed by either stereotypes or personal experiences. However, the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. Before now, the image most people had of the Cameroonian military was quite negative. They responded to all forms of resistance including sit-down strikes with methods that were out of place. They ensured that selfish decisions from a few persons in power were diligently implemented by hook or crook. They intimidated civilians for personal benefits, etcetera. In fact, all the strikes I witnessed in Cameroon made me hate the military to my veins but today, I stand to reconsider my opinion of the military to some extent, while hoping this positive image of the military is not short-lived. Whether their relentless efforts towards Boko Haram has more to it than meets the eye or not, at least we are grateful they are protecting, not intimidating or molesting the citizens. Until now, the million dollar question was, ‘who is actually protecting the civilians?’
Contrary to popular police slogans around the world like ‘the Police is your friend and helper’ and ‘the police is your friend’, for a long time the Cameroonian military was literarily enemies with the Cameroonian people. Sometimes loved ones wondered how and why their relatives or friends drastically changed once they became part of the military. After talking with friends in the Ghanaian, British and American Militaries, a vivid comparison brings me to a conclusion that the Cameroonian military has problems with its quality and quantity. From training, equipping, numbers and organization, much still has to be done yet young lives are risking the odds to save the nation.
I will not want to go as far as comparing the Cameroonian Military with that of the West since we might argue the terrains are different. Let’s take a look at a fellow West African country like Ghana; there are trained lawyers, statisticians, political analysts, etcetera in the military. This makes it difficult for the government to shove just anything down the military’s throat. In Cameroon we have a military comprised of mostly people who haven’t realized who they are, and why they are into what they do; Very young and susceptible as their ages and society has molded them to be, yet expected to protect what they don’t really know or clearly understand. Recruiting people to do the job of protecting national interests and nationals, will benefit a nation more if these persons are themselves knowledgeable about their choices and are not cajoled to contrary views. The change we seek in Cameroon begins with an over haul of the military without which, we might just have the military continue working for the benefits of a select few rather than the entire nation.
The requirements, procedures and operations management of the military in Cameroon need re-examination. Recruits should already have a good education, or access to same. Carrying a gun and following orders irrationally should not be the only thing you do as a soldier. Major undiluted civics and ethics should be taught in the army. And above all, national progress and unity should be the driving force for all decisions within the military. I know these points are quite ambitious and might not be realized in the nearest future but if you ask me, a faster way to change in Cameroon is a change in the military.
This brings me to why DCC is calling on everyone to take part in the #BIRLove kind act call. If those in power can’t make the military realize serving the people is always a priority, then maybe our acts of kindness will do that. In recent times, the military has relatively been what we want them to be and we wish it stays that way. Have you grown to appreciate the BIR lately and wish that they continue protecting civilians? Then encourage them by doing an act of kindness. You might help make them reconsider being manipulated at any point in time. Share your pictures of #BIRLove on social media and get as many people as you can involved.
Let’s begin. #BIRLove.